Table with design of lotus leaves and butterflies

Details

Table with design of lotus leaves and butterflies

Craft work / Nara

Heian period, 12th century

Wood, lacquered with mother-of-pearl inlay

W 58.2, L 27.3, H 33.5

1脚

The table-plate of this small black-lacquered table is rectangular and has notched round corners. The four side-panels are decorated with kōzama open-work decoration. The four legs are elegantly made in sagi-ashi (heron leg) style.
The rim of the kōzama open-work, the ends of the legs, and the hassō fittings, which are usually made of gilt-bronze, are decorated with mother-of-pearl inlay. This is one of the most notable aspects of this table. The design of butterflies is inlaid with mother-of-pearl within the frame of each hassō fitting. These butterflies resemble the butterflies of a mother-of pearl inlaid design on the shitan (red sandalwood) quiver which has been kept in Kasuga shrine in Nara and which was made during the Daiji era (1126-1131). Because of this similarity, the table introduced in this article is assumed to have been made during the same period as the quiver of Kasuga shrine.
The black-lacquered table with mother-of-pearl inlaid decoration in Hōryū-ji temple, which is assumed to have been made during the Tennin era (1108-1110), and another table with mother-of-pearl inlaid decoration in Daichōju-in in Chūson-ji temple belong to the same category as this black-lacquered table in the Nara National Museum, although it is much smaller than the other two tables. It is conceivable that this small table was used in a small Buddhist hall such as the jibutsu-dō.

Masterpieces of Nara National Museum. Nara National Museum, 1993, p.117, no.91.

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